What happened to the American dream? The dream that anyone can make it if they work hard enough, and maybe have a little luck. That “you can make it if you try”. The dream that all men are created equal, and that nobody is above the law.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that corporations have been given the rights of people, now we see in plain sight that corporations have become our version of an aristocracy, with rights above and beyond what are given to “normal” people. But what else can you think when a large, multi-national bank admits to extremely serious crimes — including manipulating interest rates, aiding terrorists, and laundering money for drug cartels — and their punishment is no worse than a slap on the wrist?
We used to have “too big to fail”. Now we have “too big to prosecute”. As the NY Times put it:
State and federal authorities decided against indicting HSBC in a money-laundering case over concerns that criminal charges could jeopardize one of the world’s largest banks and ultimately destabilize the global financial system.
They are now above the law.
In fact, they are being rewarded. The government is bragging about their record $1.92 billion settlement with HSBC for their wrongdoing, but the good news that they aren’t even being indicted for their crimes has pushed their stock price up 10% in the last month, raising their market capitalization by $19 billion. Who is laughing all the way to the bank now? $1.9 billion may sound big but HSBC’s profits last year were $21.9 billion.
As Matt Taibbi puts it “Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke“.
Or as Glenn Greenwald notes, the same day that the government let HSBC off from criminal prosecution for massive drug laundering, they sentenced a 27-year-old black single mother of three to life in prison without parole for a minor drug offense — her former boyfriend had hidden a lockbox containing a half kilo of cocaine in her attic without her knowledge. Even the judge in the case said that what she had done “does not warrant a life sentence” but he had no choice due to strict sentencing laws.
Greenwald’s bottom line? “Justice is dead in America“.